November 1st, 2008
06:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama aide: Timing of news about his aunt 'suspicious'

Obama aide David Axelrod, pictured here at a Pennsylvania campaign office earlier this week, called the release of information about Sen. Obama's aunt 'suspicious.'
Obama aide David Axelrod, pictured here at a Pennsylvania campaign office earlier this week, called the release of information about Sen. Obama's aunt 'suspicious.'

(CNN) - Barack Obama’s chief strategist said Saturday that he thought the last-minute appearance of stories like this weekend’s news that the Illinois senator’s aunt may be living in the country illegally would make people “suspicious.”

The Associated Press has reported that Zeituni Onyango, a native of Kenya, has been living in Boston despite losing an appeal for asylum four years ago. Obama’s campaign issued a statement earlier Saturday that the Democratic nominee “has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws should be followed." The campaign also said it would return $265 in donations from Onyango, who is not legally permitted to donate to Obama because she is not a U.S. citizen.

CNN has been unable to independently verify the aunt's immigration status.

On the campaign trail in Nevada, Axelrod said the timing of the report might raise a few eyebrows. "The campaign issued a statement on that," he said. "And I don't have anything more to add to it, other than I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a national campaign... I think that they're going to take that, they're going to put it in that context."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan questioned both the timing and the source of the news Saturday, sending a public letter to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff requesting an investigation.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra
soundoff (1,449 Responses)
  1. Hilary

    I like how you all ignore the fact that your beloved Obama mentioned Aunt Zeituni in one of his books and said he knew it was his responsibility to take care of her..

    I guess his spreading of the wealth doesn't reach out to relatives, so what makes you believe it will reach all of you?

    The landlord stated he didn't even know Obama and the lady living in the slums there were related. She has lived there for five years and Obama has never been there to see her.

    November 1, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Girma

    I´M NOT VERY POLITICAL I UNDERSTAND VERY LITTLE ABOUT "THE CRAP" SORRY ABOUT THE LANGUAGE .YEARS AGO I HAVE READ A BOOK "STUPID WHITE MEN" WRITTEN BY MICHAEL MOORE AND SAID HE IS HARSH TOWARD BUSH.BUT NOW WE ALL SAY HE WAS RIGHT AND FOR OUR SURPRISE YOU GOT HIM ELECTED FOR THE 2ND TERM AND THE WHOLE WORLD SAY WHAT? WHAT HAPPEN WITH AMERICANS.
    NOW AGAIN THIS GUYS SEEM TO KNOW YOU WELL "MAC CAIN AND PALIN" INSTEAD OF TALKING ABOUT ISSUES THEY JUST TURNED GOSSIPERS ,BACKBITERS.THIS GUYS ARE OUT OF IDEAS, I TELL YOU WHAT IF ELECTED THEY WILL DIG A DEEPER HOLE THAN BUSH DAG
    .WAKE UP AMERICA BRING THE COUNTRY OF HOPE BACK TO WHERE IT WAS BEFORE.GIRMA

    November 1, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  3. tom

    As McCain said before, it is absurd to bring someones family into this (in reference to Brystol Palin and her baby).
    Leave his aunt alone.

    New Mexico early voter. Holla!

    November 1, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  4. Tim

    I agree, pretty much a non-story since Senator Obama remarked she should be dealt with as immigration laws prescribe. I'm guessing it means respectful deportation, followed by her right to apply for legal immigration via the normal process.

    I am waiting for Mr. Axelrod to point how suspicious the investigation into Joe the Plumber's personal life. Especially since a subordinate has released how she was "encouraged" to write a fraudulent email claiming the search was done for the reasons the state's Secretary of State made during public interviews.

    ...Crickets...

    November 1, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. weneedstrongleadership

    This is old news but, when the older woman said to McCain I can't trust Obama he's an Arab. Did anyone notice that McCain conviently left out that he was a US citizen, this is what he said "McCain stood shaking his head as she spoke, then quickly took the microphone from her.

    "No, ma'am," he said. "He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with." '

    Was this woman a plant and a setup to only make you look good, I think so, look at the following.

    First you had to leave the campaign trail to rescue the economy, when clearly you were not needed, that your presence was more of a hindrance then anything else. You wanted to appear like the white knight coming in to help america.

    Then you wanted to push back the first debate so sarah wouldn't have to debate.

    Which makes one wonder after this alegid leak about Obama's aunt no being a us citizen.

    Your first receiving information on Ashley Todd even before media had the information.

    You sir are a disgrace to all americans, and all men and women in our United States of America in and out of uniform.

    Last thing, you actually had to bus in several schools in Defiance ohio to make you look good.

    November 1, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  6. James

    Who cares about the Aunt? This stuff coming from the McCain camp is so absolutely retarded. The type of people who think this is an issue are the type of people who think that US Weekly or the National Enquirer contain important news.

    November 1, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  7. Diane in GA

    She applied for asylum and was denied. Why? If she were Russian or Cuban this would not have happened. And of course it's a leak. Please, they have been trying to come at Obama with things about everyone else but the man himself. Can they dig up anything on OBAMA?

    November 1, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  8. Stephon

    Again, not news worthy!

    For those of you who think you know the facts, please contact Homland Security at once and present your so-called facts. Otherwise...more silly season in politics....

    November 1, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. Joy

    First Lets get on thing straight and lets nip it in the bud............
    1 He was raised by his mother and her side of the family
    2 He does not know much about his father or his side of the family

    Now if you want to spin that into something you go right ahead it will not stop BO from coming president

    November 1, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  10. GMAB

    Mufando... a change from Stalin to Hitler??? What history books are you reading? Must be one of those "republican history" texts....

    November 1, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  11. George M

    I guess it is now fair game to go after Palin's dysfunctional family and Cindy McCain's cocaine problems. Obama took the high road and both sides said families are off limits. I hope the dems rip them apart now. Repubs are such hypocrites.

    Also, I might add that I speek to my landscaper weekly and do not know his status. Yet Obama spoke to his HALF Aunt four times in the past 10 years and he is somehow guilty of something. What a joke!

    What's your next desperate attempt Repubs? This is getting laughable.

    November 1, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  12. Susan in NC

    IF indeed is aunt is here illegally, then legal action is appropriate; however, we all know IF it's factual, she is one of about kazillion others. Regardless, that most certainly does not change my mind about Sen. Obama in any way - he is still the leader we need in this country - no doubt about that whatsoever! I hardly consider him responsible in any way.

    My concern though does direct my thoughts to whomever was stupid enough to leak such a story. Legal action is appropriate there, too. And, shame on CNN and other news agencies for printing this woman's name, city, etc. You may have endangered her life and that is truly inexcusable!

    November 1, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. SB in NoVA

    No one has control over relatives, esp. estranged ones. Family is off limits! We've been told this abundantly!!! TYPICAL HYPOCRACY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY! It will never end ....

    Todd Palin (Alaska Independence Party)
    Bristol Palin (well.....)
    Cindy McCain (drug abuse, stealing drugs)
    Joe McCain (Communist Country in No. VA, and TWO 911 calls regarding TRAFFIC)
    John McCain himself (Keating 5, cheating on his wife, etc.!)

    Already proudly VOTED for Obama/Biden in Northern Virginia!
    Turn VA and the USA blue!
    VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE

    November 1, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  14. George

    Is this disclosure suppose to disqualify Obama as President? Let's have an intelligent discourse about the issues that is now affecting our lives, and will dictate the direction this country will take in the future.

    November 1, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  15. Nicole

    Once again here are a bunch of people reading the internet and believing everything that they read. That is the problem with the human race. They think since it is on the internet it's the truth. Well a majority of the time it isn't. It's just something written by somebody who has nothing better to do with his time but stir up trouble. I think that it's very suspicious that something like this would crop up just 72 hours before the election. It's funny how things about McCain's family isn't being aired and you that man has some skeletons in his closet as does his family. The Republicans are running scared and they will stop at nothing to ruin Mr. Obama and that involves dragging his loved ones through the mud.

    November 1, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  16. MJ

    What a crock. He wrote about her lack of citizenship in his book. What a liar! Now I know why he's not taking a stand on imigration reform.

    November 1, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  17. Virginia Democrat

    Roll on Obama!!!
    Obama/Biden...all the way to the White House
    McCain back to Arizona...
    Palin back to whatever ice-berg you crawled from....

    November 1, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  18. Ken in NC

    Well with everything that has been thrown at Obama and Biden, I think they have displayed great professionalism in remaining on message and sticking to their campaign plan. It demonstrates to me that they are more than qualified to become President and Vice President of the United States.

    November 1, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  19. Sammy

    Obama is illegal as well so where's the story here? So are 30 million others in the U.S. All are using our tax dollars so once again, where's the story? BTW, can some company who hires journalists, ask "our" government if this woman has been deported yet? If not, please ask why as Americans are no longer permitted questions. Thank you.

    November 1, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  20. Joe in MN

    I bet Obama's aunt, who's not a citizen, is more qualified than Palin...

    November 1, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  21. Justin from New Mexico

    Give me a break. Republicans are pulling at straws. This ties him closer to hispanics and immigrants who are concerned about issues of immigration. They're so unbelievably desperate at this point. This IS A STUPID STORY, and it in no ways makes him a bad person or a bad leader. GET OVER IT!!! Obama/Biden 2008

    November 1, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. lucypearl

    John McCain is pathetic. If Obama wanted to be nasty, he would have brought up the FACT about McCain's wife being injured in an accident and he left for Cindy. Why isn't CNN reporting that? Everyone knows about it. He is pathetic loser and will stoop to anything to win. He cares nothing for the Americans. He only cares about winning.

    November 1, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  23. Tim

    As a military retiree who has been/lived around the world I see young American's vote for Obama as a sign of their youth. They crave so much for hope and something to believe in that they will ignore Wright, Ayers, the Aunt, experience, real sacrifice, etc.. for their perception of Camelot...but I won't... Spend the time/do the research.
    McCain is the only clear choice...

    November 1, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  24. irish

    Why is this a non story? People have a right to know about it As usual, you Obama supporters want to brush is under the carpet just like everythingn else. This is not dirty pool. Obama is up there claiming just how wonderful a family man he is. Has much he believes in family. His wonderful approch on illegel immagration. Oh, thats right he hasn't talked much about illegal immagration. Wonder why that is. This is crap. Everything that has come out on this guy you robots just keep making excuses for him and trying to get rid of the story. So what if McCain put it out there. He should of. The people have a right to know everything about this guy, which they don't and they still are voting for him. Captain of the football team and everyone onc wants to know the popular guy. This is nothing more then a popularity contest. I hope more comes out on him before Tuesday. Oh, and by the way Biden has been wrong on everything that he has supported his entire political career.

    November 1, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  25. Riaz

    Shame... McCain is winning....

    November 1, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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